Terms of Engagement
JH Law (“we”) provides legal and related services to clients on the following Standard Terms of Engagement (Terms).
The Terms include Client Care and Service Information that we are required to provide you under the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers issued by the New Zealand Law Society in 2008 (Rules).
Our client on any particular matter will be the party identified as such in our engagement letter we send on the matter or as otherwise agreed (“you”).
These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them. You do not need to sign any formal documentation to indicate your acceptance. It will be assumed from you continuing to engage us.
We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
The services we are to provide for you (Services) are outlined in our letter of engagement along with any further instructions that you provide to us in writing (or that we record in writing).
We will obtain from you contact details, including email address, home and offices addresses and telephone numbers. We may provide documents and other communications to you by email (or other electronic means). You will advise us if any of your contact details change.
We will report to you periodically on the progress of any engagement and will inform you of any material and unexpected delays, significant changes or complications in the work being undertaken. You may request a progress report at any time.
Fees: The basis upon which we will charge our fees is set out in our engagement letter.
Fee Estimates: If the engagement letter specifies a fee estimate, we will endeavour to charge this for the agreed scope of the Services. A fee estimate may be a single amount or a range between a minimum and a maximum amount or for a particular task or step. An estimate is not a quote. Any significant assumptions included in the estimate will be stated and you must tell us if those assumptions are wrong or change. We will inform you if we are likely to exceed the estimate by any substantial amount. Unless specified, an estimate excludes GST, disbursements and expenses.
Hourly Rates: Work which falls outside the scope of a fee estimate will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside of the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs. Janey’s hourly rate, as Principal, is ordinarily $330 per hour. However, her rate may be adjusted (upwards or downwards) to ensure the fee is fair and reasonable to take into account matters such as the complexity, urgency, value and importance of the Services. Full details of the relevant fee factors are set out here.
Disbursements and Third Party Expenses: In providing the Services we may incur disbursements and payments to third parties on your behalf. You authorise us to incur these disbursements (which may include such items such as search fees, court filing fees, registration fees and travel and courier charges) which are reasonably necessary to provide the Services. You also authorise us to make payments to third parties on your behalf which are reasonably required to undertake the Services (which may include items such as experts’ costs or counsel’s fees). These will be included in our invoice to you, shown as “disbursements” when the expenses are incurred (or in advance when we know we will be incurring them on your behalf).
GST: Our services will usually attract Goods and Services Tax (GST). If this is the case, GST is payable by you on our fees and charges.
Invoices: We will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly, and on completion of the matter, or termination of our engagement. We may send you invoices more frequently when we incur a significant expense or undertake a significant amount of work over a shorter period of time.
Payment of Invoices: Invoices are payable within 7 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us.
You authorise us to deduct our fees and other expenses from funds held in our trust account on your behalf on provision of an invoice to you, unless those funds are held for a particular purpose.
Overdue Invoices: If your account is overdue we may elect:
- To deduct any amount outstanding from any money we are holding on your behalf;
- To charge interest at up to 14% p.a. and collection fees on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue; and/or
- To stop work on any matters in respect of which we are providing services to you, and to retain custody of your files, until all accounts are paid in full.
Direct Credit: Payment may be made by bank transfer to the firm’s following bank account details:
Bank account name: JH LAW LIMITED
Bank account number: 12-3122-0389070-02
Reference: Invoice No. ______
Fees & Disbursements (in advance): We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. We may do this, on reasonable notice, at any time.
Third Parties: Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, you remain responsible for payment to us in accordance with these Terms if the third party fails to pay us.
Trust Accounting: We operate a trust account. All money received from you or on your behalf will be held to your credit in our trust account.
Payments out of the trust account will be made either to you or to others with your authority. Written authorisation from you (and if we are acting for more than one of you, from all of you) will be required when payment is to be made to a third party. Before making a payment to another account we may require verification of the account details by provision of (for example) a copy of a deposit slip, bank statement showing the account number, a signed authority from you including the bank account details, or a signed letter from the relevant financial institution providing bank account details.
A full record of our trust account is kept at all times. A statement of trust account transactions detailing funds received and payments made on your behalf will be provided to you periodically and at any time upon your request.
Unless it is not reasonable or practicable to do so, when we hold significant funds for you for more than a short period of time we will place them on call deposit with a bank registered under section 69 of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989, subject to your having completed to the bank’s satisfaction any request for information relating to the deposit or certification required by the bank. Interest earned from call deposits, less withholding tax, will be credited to you.
5. Confidentiality and Personal Information
Confidence: We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except:
- To the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
- As expressly or impliedly agreed by you; or
- As necessary to protect our interests in respect of any complaint or dispute; or
- To the extent required or permitted by law.
Personal information and Privacy: In our dealings with you we will collect and hold personal information about you. We will use that information to carry out the Services and to make contact with you about issues we believe may be of interest to you. Provision of personal information is voluntary but if you do not provide full information this may impact on our ability to provide the Services.
Subject to this clause 5, you authorise us to disclose, in the normal course of performing the Services, such personal information to third parties for the purpose of providing the Services and any other purposes set out in these Terms.
We may disclose your name and address to third parties such as credit agencies to perform a credit reference or to undertake credit management or collection processes if it is reasonable to do so.
The information we collect and hold about you will be kept at our offices and/or at secure file storage sites (including electronic file storage sites) elsewhere. If you are an individual, you have the right to access and correct this information. If you require access, please email Janey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Verification of identity / AML: The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terroism Act 2009 requires us to collect from you and to retain information required to verify your identity. We may therefore ask you to show us documents verifying your identity (such as a passport or driver’s licence). We may retain copies of these documents. We may perform such other customer verification checks as to your identity and checks as to the source of any funds associated with any transaction to which the Services relate as we consider to be required by law.
We are obliged to comply with all laws applicable to us in all jurisdictions, including (but not limited to):
- Anti-money laundering (AML) and countering financing of terrorism (CFT) laws; and
- Laws relating to tax and client reporting and withholdings.
Customer Due Diligence: We may be required to undertake customer due diligence on you, persons acting on your behalf and other relevant persons such as beneficial owners and controlling persons. We may not be able to begin acting, or to continue acting, for you until that is completed.
Disclosure to Third Parties: To ensure our compliance and yours, we may be required to provide information about you, persons acting on your behalf or other relevant persons to third parties (such as Government agencies). There may be circumstances where we are not able to tell you or such persons if we do provide information.
Accuracy of Information: Please ensure that you and/or any of the persons described previously are aware of and consent to this. It is important to ensure that all information provided to us is accurate. If the information required is not provided, or considered by us to be potentially inaccurate, misleading, or in contravention of any law, we may terminate or refuse to enter into an engagement.
7. Documents, Records and Information
Storage: We will keep a record of all important documents which we receive or create on your behalf on the following basis:
- We may keep a record electronically and destroy originals (except where the existence of an original is legally important such as in the case of wills and deeds).
- At any time, we may dispose of documents which are duplicates, or which are trivial (such as emails which do not contain substantive information), or documents which belong to us.
- We are not obliged to retain documents or copies where you have requested that we provide them to you or to another person and we have done so, although we are entitled to retain copies for our own records if we wish to do so.
Client Requests for Documents: We will provide to you on request copies or originals (at our option) of all documents to which you are entitled under the Privacy Act 2020 or any other law. We may charge you our reasonable costs for doing this.
Authority to Uplift: Where we hold documents that belong to a third party you will need to provide us with that party’s written authority to uplift or obtain a copy of that document.
Term of Storage: Unless you instruct us in writing otherwise, you authorise us and consent to us (without further reference to you) to destroy (or delete in the case of electronic records) all files and documents in respect of the Services (7 years after our engagement ends (other than any documents that we hold in safe custody for you or are otherwise obliged by law to retain for longer)). We may retain documents for longer at our option. We may, at our option, return documents (either in hard or electronic form) to you rather than retain them. If we choose to do this, we will do so at our expense.
Copyright: We own copyright in all documents or work we create in the course of performing the Services but grant you a non-exclusive licence to use and copy the documents as you see fit for your own personal or commercial use. However, you may not permit any third party to copy, adapt or use the documents without our written permission.
8. Conflicts of Interest
We are obliged to protect and promote your interests to the exclusion of the interests of third parties and ourselves as set out in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (Rules). This may result in a situation arising where we have a conflict of interest.
We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Rules. This may mean we cannot act for you further in a particular matter and we may terminate our engagement.
9. Duty of Care
Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. We owe no liability to any other person, including for example any directors, shareholders, associated companies, employees or family members unless we expressly agree in writing. We do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever to any third parties who may be affected by our performance of the Services or who may rely on any advice we give, except as expressly agreed by us in writing.
Our advice is not to be referred to in connection with any prospectus, financial statement, or public document without our written consent.
Our advice is opinion only, based on the facts known to us and on our professional judgement, and is subject to any changes in the law after the date on which the advice is given. We are not liable for errors in, or omissions from, any information provided by third parties (and you hold us harmless accordingly).
Our advice relates only to each particular matter in respect of which you engage us. Once that matter is at an end, we will not owe you any duty or liability in respect of any related or other matters unless you specifically engage us in respect of those related or other matters.
Unless otherwise agreed, we may communicate with you and with others by electronic means. We cannot guarantee that these communications will not be lost or affected for some reason beyond our reasonable control, and we will not be liable for any damage or loss caused thereby (and you hold us harmless accordingly).
10. Limitations on our Obligations or Liability
To the extent allowed by law, our aggregate liability to you (whether in contract, tort, equity or otherwise) in connection with our Services is limited to the amount available to be payable under the Professional Indemnity Insurance held by the firm.
You may terminate our retainer at any time.
We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Rules including the existence of a conflict of interest, non-payment of fees, and failure to provide instructions.
If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees, disbursements and expenses incurred up to the date of termination.
12. Feedback and Complaints
Client satisfaction is one of our primary objectives and feedback from clients is helpful to us.
If you would like to comment on any aspect of the service provided by us, including how we can improve our service, please contact Janey at email@example.com.
If you have any concerns or complaints about our services, please raise them as soon as possible with Janey. She will promptly inquire into your complaint and endeavour in good faith to resolve the matter with you in a way that is fair to all concerned.
You may also contact the complaints service run by the New Zealand Law Society (visit www.lawsociety.org.nz, call 0800 261 801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Client Care & Service Information
Whatever legal services we provide you, we must:
- Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
- Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties
- Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved
- Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it, and the way in which the services will be provided
- Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable, and let you know how and when you will be billed
- Give you clear information and advice
- Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality
- Treat you fairly, respectfully, and without discrimination
- Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed
- Let you know how to make a complaint, and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.